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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1998 Jun 23;95(13):7737-41.

Mutation in the tau gene in familial multiple system tauopathy with presenile dementia.

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  • 1Medical Research Council Centre for Brain Repair and Department of Neurology, University of Cambridge, Robinson Way, Cambridge CB2 2PY, UK.


Familial multiple system tauopathy with presenile dementia (MSTD) is a neurodegenerative disease with an abundant filamentous tau protein pathology. It belongs to the group of familial frontotemporal dementias with Parkinsonism linked to chromosome 17 (FTDP-17), a major class of inherited dementing disorders whose genetic basis is unknown. We now report a G to A transition in the intron following exon 10 of the gene for microtubule-associated protein tau in familial MSTD. The mutation is located at the 3' neighboring nucleotide of the GT splice-donor site and disrupts a predicted stem-loop structure. We also report an abnormal preponderance of soluble tau protein isoforms with four microtubule-binding repeats over isoforms with three repeats in familial MSTD. This most likely accounts for our previous finding that sarkosyl-insoluble tau protein extracted from the filamentous deposits in familial MSTD consists only of tau isoforms with four repeats. These findings reveal that a departure from the normal ratio of four-repeat to three-repeat tau isoforms leads to the formation of abnormal tau filaments. The results show that dysregulation of tau protein production can cause neurodegeneration and imply that the FTDP-17 gene is the tau gene. This work has major implications for Alzheimer's disease and other tauopathies.

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